Merchandise or Animated Character, which came first?

Chris Harding is very passionate about his work. It’s a good thing too, since it helps him produce some amazing animation. His ‘Learn Self Defense‘ short (YouTube) is a classic that everyone should see. He’s also passionate about his characters. Which is why he allows himself to get so worked up when it comes to product licensing that defiles the very character it’s supposed to be promoting. For a case in point, read his excellent essay on the subject.

Here’s how it works: You spend all your energy and passion, and it
almost kills you, but somehow you manage to breathe a tiny bit of life
into a character… your baby. Then some genius comes along and–
cha-ching– sells the rights to print that character’s face on a napkin.
That people wipe their food on. On your character’s face. That you
worked so hard to breathe life into. Chocolate cake and filth all over
their face. How disrespectful. It shows contempt for the very idea of a
character, because they only exist where we put them. It only makes
sense if your goal is to just cash out, leaving behind the husks of
other peoples’ once lively creations to rot and stink in the nostrils
of posterity.

This should go in the text book for every studio head and consumer product guru.